Letters to the Editor

Readers write about the GOP losing young Republicans, how the US can walk its talk on human rights, and why US policies toward Cuba should be relaxed.

GOP's 'social conservatism' alienates young Republicans

In regard to the Dec. 17 article, "Young Republicans seek a new kind of party": I voted Republican in 1996, 2000, and 2004, but not in 2008, because I was finally fed up with the ever-increasing influence of the religious right on the Republican Party – especially on issues such as abortion, stem-cell research, and gay marriage.

If the GOP returned to affirming individual rights, limited government, and fiscal responsibility, then I would be glad to support it again.

But as long as they support the toxic "social conservative" agenda of the religious right, then they will continue to alienate many young and independent voters and lose elections. And deservedly so.

Paul Hsieh
Sedalia, Colo.

How US can join UN rights group

Regarding the Dec. 10 Opinion piece, "Obama's moment on human rights": When I read this commentary, I was both surprised and concerned. The author, Iain Guest, suggests that a good way for the United States to reengage with the United Nations is to "join the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva."

This surprised me, because a member-state cannot simply "join" this United Nations body. It is not a matter of deciding to "appoint a delegate with a proven commitment to human rights." The countries represented on the Council are elected by the General Assembly, and there is competition for the seats.

The United States can, however, stand for election to the Human Rights Council in May of 2009, and I do heartily agree with Mr. Guest that this would be a good thing to do.

I was also concerned, because this missing piece of information allows the reader to be led down a path of proposals that seem to envision the United States, once again, throwing its weight around.

As Guest points out, the United States can develop real influence at the UN with a renewed commitment to abide by international standards of behavior. As he writes, "There can be no more preaching human rights and practicing torture."

But this is more than "Obama's moment" to muscle the United States back onto the human rights scene.

It is our opportunity as a people to walk our talk and to engage in full partnership with the international human rights community.

If we step forward and actively participate in this work at the UN, with forbearance, knowledge, and respect, we can earn ourselves a valuable place on the Human Rights Council.

Daniel Jenkins
Tupper Lake, N.Y.

US should relax Cuba policy

In regard to the Dec. 15 article, "Will Obama ease US policy toward Cuba?": I believe the minimum President-elect Barack Obama can do when he takes office is to fulfill his campaign pledge to immediately allow unlimited travel and remittances to Cuban Americans.

However, he can just as easily go substantially further. He could authorize general licenses for 11 other categories of nontourist travel. These should include educational, humanitarian, religious, cultural, and sports travel categories. They could also include travel for the sake of supporting the Cuban people.

If he does so, Mr. Obama will be applauded by many Americans, including Cuban Americans. He will also show he is doing what he can to address the increasingly strong demand for change in US policy toward Cuba from every country in the Western Hemisphere.

John McAuliff
Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.

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